Prep Your Homeschool Year Like a Pro

Getting ready to plan and prep your homeschool year, but not sure where to start? A new homeschool year is on the horizon, and it can be overwhelming to think about all the little things that need to get done before day 1 quickly approaches.

Homeschool veterans and newbies alike all struggle with the realization that with a new year also comes new subjects, plans, schedules, routines, and experiences. However, with a little trial and error we can eventually find that new normal.

If figuring out a new yearly plan is completely overwhelming to you, following these 5 simple steps can certainly help get you on the right track! So take a moment, breathe deep, and relax! You’ve got this! Now, let’s get started.

How to Pick the Right Homeschool Curriculum - Simple Tips on Finding Good Homeschool Curriculum

5 Easy Steps

Step #1 – Picking the Right Curriculum

Wowa! I didn’t even beat around the bush with this one, I’m diving right in to the nitty gritty. Picking the right curriculum can be downright scary (especially for the new homeschool mom), so listen up!

First, I just want to say – there is no right or wrong, best or worst, mold fitting, perfect for everyone curriculum out there. There is simply curriculum that works for your family, and curriculum that doesn’t. What might be the perfect fit for one child, might not even be an option for another.

This is why finding the right curriculum is essential. I wish I could say it’s easy and you will know right away, but that might not be the case. Finding that perfect fit might happen with the first try, or it might happen with the 10th. The key to success however, is not being afraid to try new things and being able to let go of the stuff that just simply doesn’t work!

How We Found Our Perfect Fit

Our homeschool story started with online schooling and gradually took a course towards something totally different! If your interested in learning more about our journey and how we found the perfect curriculum for our family, I highly encourage you to check out Online Schooling Pros & Cons as well as The Good and The Beautiful K Primer Review.

My Top Advice – RESEARCH! Browse all the curriculum you possibly can online and in stores. Ask other homeschool mom’s what they use, read reviews and pray! Don’t ever settle! Look over your curriculum choices again and again until you find that one that just keeps standing out to you. Next, take the plunge and purchase it!

Step #2 – Setting Realistic Goals and Expectations

Once your curriculum has been chosen it’s time to set some goals and expectations for the upcoming year. Now this can be super difficult if you get excited about new curriculum like I do. I tend to get these unrealistic ideas in my head that we can go through 32 different courses in a single semester, haha!

With that said, I can usually take some time to look over new curriculum and set myself straight. It’s incredibly important to think about your child’s strong suits and their weaknesses. If you have a child behind on math because you switched curriculum mid year (it’s ok, I’ve been there too!) starting the year out on an accelerated schedule might be a great option for catching up! However, if your child regularly struggles with math, a year round slower pace might be in order.

My Top Advice – Take some time to really sit down and think about each of your children and their specific needs. Are they just not challenged enough and need to go up a level on their language? Or are they struggling and need more of a spaced out schedule? Once you’ve evaluated, it’s time to set some goals and start the planning process!

Step #3 – Planning it Out

Yes! My absolute favorite part of every life event – the planning! Ok, so maybe this isn’t every homeschool mom’s dream. However, it’s definitely something I both enjoy and am pretty decent at. I’m 100% a planner.

Like with every good plan, you must start with the basics. Good old fashioned pen and paper are always my go to. Once the curriculum is out of the box, my goals and expectations have been noted, I’m ready to begin planning our new homeschool year.

The Method

The Homeschool Planning Method that Works - Simple Homeschool Prep Tips

  • First, separate all curriculum into piles – sorting by child or subject is typically best (I tend to sort by child since my kids age ranges vary greatly)
  • Second, get to know your children’s curriculum. Take your time and read through the introductions, parent notes, and how to use sections.
  • Next, skim through some lessons to get a realistic view of how quick or easy your child might complete the course. Also, have your children take any intro assessments if there are any (this will help you gage the difficulty level of the course, as well as if they need to be on an accelerated or a more paced out schedule).
  • Last, take notes along the way. Brain storm ideas, curriculum aides, supplementals, and even make shift schedules for each child to give yourself a better idea of what needs to happen in your upcoming homeschool year.

Step #4 – Creating Pacing Guides and Schedules

Prep Your Homeschool Year by Creating Simple Homeschool Schedule and Printable Pacing Guides

This can definitely be the hardest (and most time consuming) part of prepping for a new homeschool year. This is our 4th year homeschooling, and I must say I have probably been through 30 different schedule changes! Some have been minor tweaks, while others have been a total overhaul.

I typically start the scheduling process by going over all my previous notes and brainstorm sessions. This year in particular I had decided I wanted to try a 3 day school week. Yes, you read right, I said 3 Days! Why?

Two Simple Reasons.

One, we have science classes at our local zoo every Wednesday and we typically run errands after. I simply don’t have time for lessons that day, plus it’s kinda like they are doing school without actually doing school anyway!

Two, I need an easy day. While it may sound selfish or even a little bit irresponsible, if you’re a homeschool mom you can probably relate! Not only are there lessons to teach, but there is also laundry to be washed, dinner to be cooked, and a plethora of other tasks that need to be completed each week. So this year I’m taking Friday off from lessons and focusing on other mundane tasks that I need to catch up on. Some days my Fridays will be spent catching up on laundry, other times they will be set aside for blog work, budgeting, or grocery shopping.

I am ecstatic about this new schedule, however I’m sure there will be small tweaks made along the way (there always are). The key here is to find what works best for my family and I truly believe the 3 day school week is where it’s at for us. We will still finish most of our core subjects in April or May, with some others trailing through the summer. This isn’t a huge deal for us because we typically start new curriculum over the summer anyway! Time to begin that scheduling process and find the perfect balance for your family!

Figuring Out Your Schedule

If you’ve read all this and your still stuck wondering how in the world can I figure all this out on my own?? Don’t fret. Even as a new homeschool mom, you can rest assured that you will get there in time! For now though, I highly encourage you to check out Mom’s Master Schedule (a tool I tweak and utilize every single year), to get some tips on how I made our schedule work for us last year.

Done with the schedule making, but lost on how to pace it all out? Sign up for my bi-monthly homeschool newsletter below which also enables you to get full access to my printables library. In this library you will find an editable pacing guide for the 2018-2019 school year, as well as Mom’s Master Schedule and other fun tools to utilize during your homeschool year!

Step #5 – Getting it all Organized

Your almost to the finish line (of prepping for the school year that is, the ultimate finish line is of course graduation day!).

The final step… organizing! While it may sound daunting, it’s 100% necessary for a successful homeschool year. You could spend a full 2 weeks brainstorming, list making, purchasing the perfect curriculum, and creating the most beautiful schedule man has ever seen, but still have a stressful, overwhelming, and unsuccessful school year. In order to put your plan into action and see the results you want, organization has to happen first.

However, getting organized can be a pretty large task if you don’t know where to start. I remember my first year of homeschooling like it was yesterday. The K12 boxes came and I sat in my living room staring at these stacks of curriculum trying to come up with some sort of plan, it was completely overwhelming! If your new to the homeschool world, just take a moment and breathe. Getting organized doesn’t have to be that stressful.

How You Can Get Organized in No Time!

The Curriculum is purchased, the plan has been made, and the schedules are created. Time to get everything else prepped and organized for your best homeschool year yet!

Homeschool Prep Tips - Super Simple Homeschool Organization Ideas and Tips

Remember all that curriculum you pulled out, piled up, and skimmed through during the planning process? Get it all out again! This time you are going to sort through the curriculum to see what can be prepped ahead of time. If things need to be punched out, ripped out, or stapled together, get it done now! Trust me, you will be thankful later.

Now keep in mind, you don’t need to prep for months in advance (unless you want to). The biggest tasks you need to complete first are the things like flash cards, manipulatives, or readers that your children will be using all year long. Getting those prepped ahead of time will take a huge weight off your shoulders.

Once you’ve spent some time prepping curriculum and aides, figuring out the perfect organizational system is the next step! If this task sounds completely overwhelming and you aren’t even sure where to begin, I highly encourage you to check out 5 Simple Homeschool Organization Ideas for all the best tips! Just remember to keep it simple, take your time, and assess your families needs! Follow these 5 easy steps to ensure a smoother start to your homeschool year!

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5 Ways to Prep Your Homeschool Year Successfully